Understanding the Global Edunomic Index (GEI)

What is the GEI?

The Global Edunomic Index (GEI) was recently published over at  3/1 Global Research.  Within it we analyzed education, economic and investment risk/environment data across 49 Emerging and Frontier Markets and then stack-ranked them using our internal scoring methodology.  Why? To help companies, universities and investors make sense of the world’s rapid development of human capital and how countries rank based on a selection of critical performance measures.

Here is what we asked:

  • How do educational achievement and skills correlate with an individual country’s economic growth trajectory, the quality and sustainability of its companies, its competitive positioning, risk profile and the potential returns to investors?
  • Which countries offer the most and least attractive environment for investment into human capital, education and related technology industries based on their size and development path, and how is this changing over time?
  • Where should stakeholders and investors look for the next set of emerging opportunities based on this data?

The GEI is premised on the idea–repeatedly explored by this blog–that private sector investment and innovation have a central role to play in the development of human capital in Emerging and Frontier Markets, acting both as a partner with the public sector and as an independent source of disruption and development.

2016 GEI Rankings and Results

With its combination large populations, economic growth and high educational outcomes Asia dominates the top ranks with China, Korea, India and Vietnam scoring in the top ten slots across the 49 countries including in the GEI. The balance is represented by leaders in Emerging Europe—Czech Republic and Poland—and Qatar and UAE, each with strong fundamentals and higher developed investment environments for transnational education (See figures below).


2016 Global Edunomic Index (GEI) Scoring 



GDP v GEI Rankings


Regional Notes

If we use a more narrow aggregation, a number of initial insights are revealed both across and within specific regions:


The Americas were led by Mexico (14) and Argentina (15), and further down the list, Brazil (24) and Chile (25). The contrast between Mexico and Brazil is instructive: each with large populations but a different set of education profiles and increasingly divergent economic paths in light of Brazil’s deepening recession. Separately, Argentina emerges as a relatively strong investment case within the Americas after a long period in the wilderness. Peru (33) and Colombia (34) rank in the middle of the GEI.


With the exception of South Africa (35), African countries scored at the lowest levels across economic inclusion and education attainment measures and thus were largely at the bottom of the rankings. This includes leading regional countries such as Nigeria (46), Ghana (47) and Kenya (48), a fact that becomes urgent considering that Nigeria and Kenya have among the highest percentage of youths under-14 years of age in their populations. Experienced observers of Africa should not be surprised by these results: a combination of poor performance in productivity, insufficient education access, and operating environments plagued by governance issues has marred sustainable, value-added growth opportunities across the continent, despite some success with private education and training investment.

Northern Africa, represented by Egypt (38), scored higher than most of African counterparts but still remained in the bottom quartile of the rankings. However both countries have more developed educational systems and the potential for gains in the years ahead.

Emerging Europe

In many respects Emerging Europe is a different comparative class to other countries in the GEI despite their inclusion as Emerging Market representatives. Several countries have small populations, strong educational achievement, an advanced EU-formulated operating environment, and highly productive economies. Yet rankings differ widely. Notably: Turkey (12) ranks high next to Czech Republic and Estonia and followed by Russia (16), while Southern European countries such as Greece (19), Romania (27) and Bulgaria (28) less so.


Asia’s lead rankings from China (1), Korea (2), Malaysia (3), India (5) and Vietnam (10)—and respectable showing from Thailand (11) and Indonesia (13)—contrast sharply with other regional participants further down the pecking order such as Philippines (29), Sri Lanka (37), Pakistan (42) and Bangladesh (43). These three laggards have one thing in common: youthful populations and increasing pressure on employment, but also an opportunity to move ahead if productivity and education intensity rises.

Middle East

Apart from the unique profile of Gulf countries UAE (4) and Qatar (9) mentioned previously, and to a lesser extent Bahrain (26), Middle East countries such as Jordan (36) and Oman (39) faced more acute economic challenges and generally lagged in terms of educational outcomes and productivity.


Read the full report and its methodology here.

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